STILL THE STAR: Toowoomba's Parks and Gardens will again be curated into splendour.
STILL THE STAR: Toowoomba's Parks and Gardens will again be curated into splendour.

Carnival of Flowers tunes up with massive program

THE secret's out ... the planning that's been going on behind closed doors since last year's Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers has bloomed into a 2017 program as big and bright as ever.

Having won gold in the Major Festival and Event category at last year's Australian Tourism Awards, organisers had a lot to live up to.

And it looks like they've done it with a program of more than 60 events, including internationally acclaimed singers and musicians, award-winning parks, gardening and food experts and delicious produce all to be showcased.

Musically, there's a line-up any festival would envy, with plenty for all age-groups, headlined by pop and rock legends Daryl Braithwaite and The Angels, and indie stars The Temper Trap and The Paper Kites. Boys in the Band, all female group The Diamonds and upcoming Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Alex Lahey round out the line-up.

In a unique collaboration, The Voices will also perform, blending the talents of Mark Gable (Choirboys), Dale Ryder (Boom Crash Opera), Reece Mastin (X-Factor) and Jason Sigh (Taxiride).

From grandmas to teens, Australia's Eurovision representative and X-Factor winner Isaiah has won hearts, and he heads the Sideshow Alley entertainment, which also includes magician Matt Hollywood, incredible fireworks and the usual range of great rides.

But yes, this is still the flower festival, and the spotlight is on the city's parks and gardens with Laurel Bank Park, Queens Park, Picnic Point, Spring Bluff and the Japanese Garden all carefully curated to showcase the best of spring flowers.

The garden competition is now open, with entries due by July 31 and a total of $53,000 up for grabs. Judging is from September 1-8 and you have to be willing to open your gardens to the public throughout the festival.

Of course, the Grand Central Floral Parade is a perennial favourite, and takes over the city again on Saturday, September 16 when more than 100,000 people line the streets.

Author, horticulturist and ABC Gardening Australia's Sophie Thompson will be on hand with lots of sage advice, joined by self-made cooking star Anna Gare.

Still on the food side, there's also the five-course gala dinner at Laurel Bank Park, high teas, picnics and music in the parks, the Talking Pubs and Food and Wine tours, along with the Hidden Laneways and Darker Side tours.

This year's program runs from September 15-24. Check the full program at www.tcof.com.au.


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